Review – Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Magic Study (Study #2)

by Maria V. Snyder

SummaryA lesson in loyalty, a master class in intrigue

So far, I’ve managed to survive. You would think after being kidnapped as a child, imprisoned in my teens and released to become a poison taster, I would have endured enough. But no. The discovery of my magical abilities, powers forbidden in Ixia, has resulted in an execution order. My only chance is to flee to Sitia, my long-lost birthplace.

But Sitia is unfamiliar. I’m treated like an enemy, even by my own brother. Plus I can’t control my powers. I want to learn about my magic, but there isn’t time. A rogue magician has emerged and I’m targeted as his next victim.

Will my magical abilities save me…or be my downfall?

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

Magic Study has some mixed reviews and I think it’s primarily due the abrupt setting change and lack of familiar characters with no plan to return to the original setting. Yelena was no longer allowed to remain alive in Ixia at the end of Poison Study and she left with Irys to the south to find her family and learn more about her magic. It is rightly titled Magic Study in the same way that the first book was named Poison Study. It was a bit disappointing to not have Valek front and center, but I was curious enough to continue. 

(For anyone put off by Valek’s absence, I will say that he does make an appearance at some point, so it’s not without it’s moments between Yelena and Valek. I think, especially since Yelena is so similar to Celaena in Throne of Glass, people may have worried about a love interest shift. No need to worry!)

I enjoyed Magic Study, although Yelena’s I-Can-Tackle-Anything attitude was becoming more reckless than helpful, but I think she had/has to fail in order to teach herself to be patient and also she needed/needs to push herself to show others that she is more than capable. She came into the magic game late and was behind, so very few people seemed to grasp that she was more than capable of helping, even if she didn’t know how to formally do whatever it is with her magic that needed to be done.

Some reviewers have mentioned the fact that all of the villains seem obsessed with rape and torture and it’s excessive, but I feel like it fits in a fantasy setting and with Yelena being so outspoken and powerful, she draws unwanted attention from villains who would be of that type. It fits for me and doesn’t seem like it’s over the top. And I love that Yelena has learned how to overcome her past and help others heal and realize that they aren’t responsible. There are some great messages there and I think it fits and is relevant to the setting, the characters, and the growth that Yelena has experienced from the beginning of the story. 

I also love that Yelena’s homecoming was nothing like I assumed it would be. I’m glad that her clan and family welcomed her because I was afraid they wouldn’t, but I’m glad that there was a bit of a complication with Yelena’s brother. I like when things aren’t neat and tidy and a homecoming that brought everyone together would seem just a little too neat to me. I like the messiness of the guilt and hatred and shame that Lief seemed to have towards her because it seemed a bit realistic to me. 

Magic Study felt different from Poison Study in many ways, so I understand why there are many mixed reviews. It’s not really more of the same, which is what people normally expect from sequels. But I like the change in scenery and characters. I liked seeing Yelena discover her past and her abilities. It seems like the series will expand on her character throughout each book and I’m enjoying the journey. 

Star 4

Throwback Review – Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Poison Study (Study #1)

By Maria V. Snyder

REREAD

SummaryMurder, mayhem and magic…
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

**** Originally posted Mar 2016****

Poison Study was great! I absolutely loved the story. In some ways, it was similar to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which is great because I’m constantly on the lookout for books of that caliber. Yelena was a prisoner and was to be executed for murder. Under the military regime, things were even, yet not necessarily fair in the way that we understand fairness. Murder was wrong, regardless of why you did it, even if you had a good reason. It was the same for everything. Punishment was to be exacted for every infraction, even not wearing your uniform to work, regardless of why. However, the next prisoner on the chopping block was meant to have the opportunity to be a food taster for the Commander. Luckily, Yelena was next in line and was given a shot at life, with restraints.

Yelena was a likable character. She was fierce, but good at heart. She learned poisons under Valek, who taught her what to look for and what the effects were to various types of poison so that she could effectively do her job. The Commander was always under some threat of murder and poison, so Yelena had to taste everything. Her position was, of course, one with a very high mortality rate.

The book was full of magic and mayhem, with lovable characters. I cared about each of Yelena’s friends and people who attempted to help her. While I disliked the way the regime was set up, I understood why it was so drastic after the way magicians ran the kingdom previously. I also respected Commander Ambrose. He was soft when he needed to be and seemed to trust Valek, who extended that trust onto Yelena.

I enjoyed the slow romance in the book as well and I liked that it wasn’t all front and center, but kind of played out in the background.

I definitely recommend Poison Study and I will read the sequels. It was a beautifully written and enchanting YA fantasy and I can’t wait to find out what will happen to Yelena next.

 

REREAD 2017 Updates: I decided to reread the book so I could recap before starting the sequel and I still loved it just as much as the first time! It’s kind of a nice story to read if you’re looking for something like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because Yelena and Celaena have some similar traits and backgrounds. 

 

Star 4

Book Blogger Hop – July 7

 

Hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

 

This week’s question: 

July 7th – 13th

In one sentence, describe your passion for reading. 

(submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

 

Reading has been a lifelong hobby that has challenged me, given me an escape when I needed one, and has been something I can take with me everywhere that passes time in a productive way; it has molded me and I’ve lived many lives through the pages of books. 

 

Book_heart.jpg

 

 

Review – Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

 

Into the Water

By Paula Hawkins

SummaryA single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

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Source: I purchased a hardcover from BOTM Club

Review:

Into the Water was slightly disappointing. I feel like I had middle of the road expectations for it, too. The synopsis sounded like it would be intriguing and perfect for what I enjoy in thrillers, but I also knew that, while The Girl on the Train was decent, it wasn’t a novel I found to be deserving of the praise and hype it got. Often, the second book after an explosive hit can be kind of disappointing, so I mentally prepared myself for that, too.

The book was actually not very well executed. The plot was there and it was a good one had it been more of page turner, but there were way too many characters to keep track of from the very beginning. While all of them had a purpose in the end, I can’t help but feel like there could’ve been a better way to tie it together. It wasn’t that the characters were unlikeable, though they were, but they were all just sort of flat and difficult to care about. I didn’t hate them or like them enough. They were just.. pawns in a larger plot. 

It’s almost like the author wanted to expand on the theme of the first book and how memory can be tricky, but didn’t want to be accused of trying the same thing by creating an unreliable narrator, so she just made every character somewhat of a narrator in a way that seemed artificial. It probably would’ve been better if she’d stuck with a smaller cast of characters and created situations with strong dialogue to include the other characters and their motivations better. 

I realize I’m being a bit harsh, but I read a lot of thrillers with similar themes and typically can’t get enough. I think there are a ton of talented authors who grasp the small town with buried secrets in better ways than this book did. It was so disappointing that whenever I read the synopsis, I’m excited all over again and then realize the pages inside of the book just don’t capture any of the descriptions used. It wasn’t satisfying or urgent at all. It was slow, like trudging through mud just to get to the good stuff. 

Star 2

Review – Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters

by Francesca Zappia

SummaryEighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimonaand Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate

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Review:

Before I state my opinion, I’ll say that this book was a huge Owlcrate fan favorite. A lot of subscribers enjoyed this book and I completely and totally understand why. It’s a great book, short, sweet, and probably very easy for many introverted people to relate to. So my low-ish rating is more of personal opinion and not necessarily an indicator that this is a bad book.

I think this book is easy for a lot of readers and introverts to relate to and that ability to relate is what makes it so enjoyable. For me, I am kind of different because, while I do enjoy escape into books, I am not the kind of introvert who doesn’t enjoy real life, even when I don’t fit in. I feel like becoming comfortable in my own skin is important to me, even as tempting as escaping into myself tends to be, and it’s always kind of made it difficult for me to relate to the types of introverts who prefer to escape. This book is for those people. For me, it just wasn’t a book I identified with, though the author did create characters I wanted to root for even if I couldn’t relate.

On another note, I also dislike and do not participate in fan-fiction, so there’s another thing that other people probably loved and could relate to that I just couldn’t. I will likely never pick up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (though I love her other books!) just because I know it’s not my cup of tea. I didn’t realize that this book would be about a fandom in that sense. Eliza created her world, but I didn’t expect the online fandom presence or the existence of a fan-fiction writer. And this definitely hindered my enjoyment of the book, though it didn’t really bother me until the end. I rooted for Eliza and Wallace for the majority of the book, but his behavior regarding his fan-fiction really bothered me and that’s partly because I think it was a crappy attitude about it but also because of how I feel about fan-fiction in general, published fan-fiction, and the rights of fan-fiction authors. (I’m sorry, but no author or artist or any person should ever be made to feel like they exist to give other people inspiration even if they do frequently inspire others. You are not an inspiration factory and if someone can’t get their life together it’s not your fault no matter what. This message WAS in the book, but the end of the book kind of rushed through some of that and I don’t think that was as clear as it could’ve been.)

And lastly, while I didn’t relate to Eliza, I felt like I understood her throughout much of the book. I was completely loving the book for at least 70% of it because the author did a great job of making me empathize with and love Eliza and “get” her situation. But once her identity was revealed and she had a panic attack, she generally stopped participating in life on and offline, and I just didn’t feel like the rest of the book handled the healing process very well. It glossed over a lot of it and I wanted the book to have more of a focus on overcoming and dealing with anxiety instead of just kind of skirting around it. While her family didn’t necessarily understand her focus on her comic and they finally understood it once they realized how big it was, the fact that it was so successful did not and should not mean that Eliza’s behavior was okay. There’s a middle ground there that just wasn’t obviously pointed out. I feel like the message, without meaning to, kind of sounded like “it’s okay to let anxiety control your life if you just do something successful.” The book did start to go in a more positive direction towards the end, but it just wasn’t as detailed or in depth as the whole rest of the book, so it just fell short for me and made the actual message it was trying to give a little less clear.

If you love comics, graphic novels, the creation of art, fan-fiction, and/or characters who are more comfortable online than in person and find that easy to relate to, this book is absolutely awesome and I definitely recommend it. But it’s not without flaws.

Star 3

Review – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

 

Dark Matter

By Blake Crouch

Summary“Are you happy with your life?” 

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. 

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. 

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

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Source: I purchased a hardcover

Review:

Dark Matter was all the rage last year, so I gave into the hype and purchased a copy. As with most of my books, it took me a bit to finally get around to reading it. The science fiction mood hit me, so I picked it up. The book was very difficult to put down and entertaining to read. I flew through it and cared about Jason and his situation. He was a character you couldn’t help but root for and feel for throughout the novel.

The plot was interesting, but not nearly as unique as I expected. I found it a tad predictable for the first half of the book because so many movies and books explore the parallel universe theory and the beginning of Dark Matter set it up so obviously with a main character who alluded to his bright future and it seemed to hit a nerve for both him and his wife that they both gave up so much for each other. The plot was still fun because I wanted to see what the other universe would be like and what would happen.

The second half of the book was much weirder and less predictable, which should have meant it was better, but I was a bit disappointed by the way the book dealt with the science. It wasn’t afraid to throw out those intense and complicated theories, but it glossed over a lot of the science and I had hoped it would be more complex. It’s a great book for people who are new to the science fiction genre or not well versed in the theories about multiverses. But for a science fiction fan who watches many documentaries about science in my free time (there’s always something space or physics related playing in the background of my house), it felt like the book just rushed and glossed over a concept I wanted to spend more time admiring.

Dark Matter would make a really good blockbuster movie that would appeal to many audiences. It was fun and entertaining with that layer of complexity that makes it different from your run of the mill action adventure.

I recommend Dark Matter

Star 4

Owlcrate Unboxing – June 2017: Make It Out Alive

 

This month’s Owlcrate theme was 

Make It Out Alive

 

 

I recently moved from one coast on the US to the other, so Owlcrate was the last thing on my mind, but I did update my address. When I got my box, I was sort of excited, but not looking forward to opening any more boxes after spending so much time unpacking.

However, this box was super awesome and I was immediately thrilled. I felt like Owlcrate got with the program and gave me more of the unique items I originally signed up for and less of the same coffee/tea/candle type of stuff they’ve been sending so much of lately. (Don’t get me wrong, EVERY Owlcrate is worth the money, but I was a bit tired of the traditional literary what-is-in-everyone’s-Instagram-pictures type of items. 

 

So what was in this super awesome box?

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  • The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson – With Owlcrate Exclusive cover, signed bookplate, author letter, and themed stickers.
  • New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson
  • Zombie Sleep Mask
  • Owlcrate Divergent themed bath bomb – Which faction are you? 
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin themed bookmark
  • The Giver inspired iron on patch
  • An Ember in the Ashes magnet 
  • Owlcrate theme pin

I love that the box came with TWO books and such an awesome sleep mask.

 

I’ve recently become obsessed with bath bombs now that my house has a working bathtub and i was finally able to try the fortune telling bath bomb from MANY Owlcrate’s ago, so I LOVED that I got a bath bomb and it smelled amazing. I used it the day I got it!

I ended up with Amity as my faction, which is not at all correct, but I love the charm and will definitely wear it as a necklace.